The Department for Education is to research the construction and layout of school sites to find ways to improve their carbon footprint.
It comes as the department confirmed the second wave of 50 projects in the government’s school rebuilding programme will split £1 billion in funding, though it is not yet known if this is new money from the Treasury.
The department has previously refused to confirm whether the second wave of the programme would get the same funding as the £1 billion allocated for the first 50 schemes. It told Schools Week in July that total funding would depend on the works at each school.
But today, as new education secretary Nadhim Zahawi “broke ground” on one of the first projects to begin construction, the DfE confirmed £2 billion has been allocated for the first 100 projects.
To coincide with the visit, the DfE said it was also looking at “how it can take school buildings a step further in lowering their carbon footprint, including research into construction and layout of school sites, the creation of more outdoor spaces within schools, and improvements to the way schools are powered”.
The DfE has also announced it will be showcasing work to “make school sites more sustainable” at the COP26 climate summit in November.
Measures to be announced at COP will “focus on the government championing climate education and skills, making it easier for schools and pupils to support local biodiversity and make a positive impact on the world around them”.
The government announced last year that it would rebuild or refurbish 500 schools over ten years under its new rebuilding programme.
But future funding and schools in line to receive it is yet to be confirmed, with the DfE having recently consulted on how projects will be prioritised.
Today, Zahawi visited West Coventry Academy, where new buildings “will be designed to reduce energy consumption and support the UK’s net zero by 2050 target”.
He said the government was “revolutionising the school estate to future proof both our children’s education and the environment, with new school buildings that are net zero in operation.
“These rebuilds and refurbishments, with the first 100 projects backed by £2 billion government funding, will create world-leading education facilities, from classrooms and science labs to sports halls and dining rooms.”